The education, protection and expansion of Patient Rights is central to the role of the Australian Patients Association. These rights describe the rights that consumers, or someone they care for, can expect when receiving health care. They apply to all people in all places where health care is provided in Australia. This includes public and private hospitals, day procedure services, general practice and other community health services.

You can tell us stories that relate to your Patient Rights at Have Your Say.

The APA can assist with advice and direction if you feel your Patients’ Rights have been affected by using our Help Line.

One important Patient Right is support and help from a family member or friend. This is called Patient Advocacy. A Patient Advocates are often involved in protecting and enforcing patient rights. The APA can assist with information and resources to assist Patient Advocates.

What can I expect from the Australian health system?

What healthcare rights do patients have in Australia?

The Australian healthcare system has outlined certain rights in the ‘Australian Charter of healthcare rights’ to everyone who is seeking or receiving care, in all places where healthcare is provided in Australia.This includes the care provided by general practice, other community healthcare services, day procedures, and public and private hospitals.The article explains your rights and what to do if you feel they have been denied to ensure all patients and their carers in Australia receive safe, high-quality care.

What are the 7 patients’ rights?

The seven fundamental healthcare rights included in the Charter relate to access, safety, respect, communication, participation, privacy and comment.

Patients who are eligible for Medicare are entitled to free or subsidised healthcare from general practitioners and specialists as well as in hospitals which includes free treatment and as a public patient in Public hospital and subsidised medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

What are my rights?


  • Healthcare services and treatment that meets my needs


  • Receive safe and high quality health care that meets national standards
  • Be cared for in an environment that is safe and makes me feel safe


  • Be treated as an individual, and with dignity and respect
  • Have my culture, identity, beliefs and choices recognised and respected


  • Ask questions and be involved in open and honest communication
  • Make decisions with my healthcare provider, to the extent that I choose and am able to
  • Include the people that I want in planning and decision-making


  • Clear information about my condition, the possible benefits and risks of different tests and treatments, so I can give my informed consent
  • Receive information about services, waiting times and costs
  • Be given assistance, when I need it, to help me to understand and use health information
  • Access my health information
  • Be told if something has gone wrong during my health care, how it
    happened, how it may affect me and what is being done to make
    care safe


  • Have my personal privacy respected
  • Have information about me and my health kept secure and confidential

Give Feedback

  • Provide feedback or make a complaint without it affecting the way
    that I am treated
  • Have my concerns addressed in a transparent and timely way
  • Share my experience and participate to improve the quality of care
    and health services

patient rights in healthcare

Do patients have the right to refuse treatment?

A fundamental principle of health law is an adult’s right to decide what is or is not done to their bodies which includes the right to consent to or refuse medical treatment, even when the reason for making the choice sounds irrational and failure to receive treatment will result in death.

For further information please visit Safety & Quality website